Gaming as a Science: Günter Wallner is the New Professor for Game Computing

Günter Wallner joined the JKU at the beginning of March as the new professor for Game Computing at the Institute of Computer Graphics.

Professor Günter Wallner

Yes, game computing is really a thing but it has less to do with computer games and more to do with evaluating large amounts of data in order to analyze and improve the player’s experience. We spoke with him to explain this new academic field and why he does it.

You came to the JKU from the Eindhoven University of Technology and the University of Applied Arts. What attracted you to the JKU?
Günter Wallner: The environment at the JKU is ideal to conduct my research as the university is very strongly positioned in computer graphics, deep learning, and artificial intelligence.

What is game computing?
Günter Wallner: Game computing is a broad field. My research focuses mainly on games user research, meaning studying the way players behave. A large part of my work focuses on developing methods to visualize data sets, some of which can be quite large. For example, we developed a visualization that combines biometric data, observation data, and motion data so we could get a better understanding of how and why gamers behave the way they do.

What is this good for?
Günter Wallner: This gives us insight into how we can improve both the game and the player’s experience. The games and interface can be better adapted to the players’ needs and behaviors. Right now, I am interested in visually reporting results back to the players themselves so they can more easily analyze and improve their skills.

Which well-known games have you worked on? Who are your clients?
Günter Wallner: I’ve worked with game companies, of course. As a university professor, however, I have a certain amount of freedom to spotlight aspects independently and develop methods that, in turn, flow into games research. For example, we have already conducted data analyses from games such as Destiny or League of Legends, but research pertaining to educational games is also important.

Does that mean your students taking your classes can play computer games?
Günter Wallner: (laughs) Well, that too, but it's more like work. And, of course, they have to look at the game as part of the course. My subject area requires being able to effectively bring creativity, technology, theory and real-world practices together.

Do you also play games yourself?
Günter Wallner: Sometimes. Lemmings or Starcraft II are two of my favorite games, for example, however I also have other hobbies, such as photography.